City-based NGO Thozhan recently mobilised over 2,500 volunteers to educate about 10,000 people across 73 public parks to act swiftly in case of an accident.
“We noticed several people meeting with accidents on highways and losing their lives because they aren’t taken to hospitals in time. Even though we see several traffic campaigns being held at several colleges and offices, they tend to be preachy. So instead, we decided to encourage people to become the change makers, and take a pledge on their own to follow the traffic rules. Due to fear of being harassed by the police, many people don’t make the effort to call for an ambulance when they witness an accident. So, we wanted to create awareness on the Good Samaritan law, which a very few people are aware of,” the founder of Thozhan Radhakrishnan M tells DT Next.
In 2016, the Supreme Court passed a judgement providing legal protection to the bystanders who help road accident victims, and protecting them from hassles of hospitals and police after they provide emergency help. “Through skits and mimes, we approach people at public parks and educate them about the Good Samaritan law and how a little effort can help save a life. A lot of times, they admit to being completely unaware of how they can help — which we address through the necessary steps to be done after an accident, like offering a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if necessary,” he adds.
The NGO has also been holding seminars and orientations for working professionals and students across the city. “We want to create first responders in schools and colleges as well, who can take action when needed. Over the past year, we have had several people who were admitted to hospitals by our volunteers calling us back, thanking for saving their lives. It makes us realise that it is our responsibility to help our fellow humans in need,” remarks Radhakrishnan, who works as an urban governance researcher. The group in the past also took to unique ways, such as having its volunteers dress up as Batman and Superman, who would ensure people followed traffic rules.
City-based cyber researcher Sathish Kumar Balakrishnan has been volunteering with Thozhan for the past three years. “The campaigns changed my perspective in life, giving me a sense of responsibility every time I’m on the roads. I now confidently tell people at traffic signals to do their bit in following the road rules,” he adds.